Nov 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) throws a pass in the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor beat Oklahoma 41-12. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
#16 – Tennessee Titans – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT Alabama
The great debate ahead for the Tennessee Titans is whether they are willing to give Jake Locker another year or try to move on from him. He was starting to play well before some unfortunate injuries hit. In this scenario he keeps his job, and the Titans look to bolster his pass protection. Cyrus Kouandjio is big, power, long and athletic. He comes from a great program at Alabama at age 20 is only scratching the surface of his potential.
#17 – Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
In order for the Monte Kiffin defense to work the Dallas Cowboys have to get better up front. Injuries have hurt them but they also don’t have the best personnel. One area in need of help is defensive tackle. Timmy Jernigan profiles as an ideal three-technique. His quickness and speed allow him to shoot gaps to rush the passer while also sliding down the line to blow up running plays. Under Rod Marinelli, his athletic promise could be harnessed to great effect.
#18 – Philadelphia Eagles – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Chip Kelly doesn’t mind making a splash and he also doesn’t mind creating competition. Nick Foles has done enough to earn the starting job for 2013, but as far as the future goes that is not certain. So the Philadelphia Eagles stick to their plan to find a quarterback. They roll the dice on Johnny Manziel. His athleticism, toughness and playmaking ability would mesh well with the Kelly offense provided his arm strength isn’t called upon often.
#19 – Chicago Bears – Loucheiz Purifoy – CB – Florida
Charles Tillman is done for the year. Tim Jenning is turning 30-years old. Both of them, and three other corners on the Chicago Bears roster are free agents in 2014. Given the offensive firepower in the NFC North, GM Phil Emery can’t afford to let that well run dry, and since he loves players with athletic upside he goes for a rather mysterious choice in Loucheiz Purifoy. Physically, he’s probably the most gifted in his draft class from size to speed and agility. There isn’t a receiver he can’t cover, but he’s also not strong enough yet and needs to improve his awareness. Once that happens, he can go toe-to-toe with anybody.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Bryce Petty – QB – Baylor
Carson Palmer has at least elevated the Arizona Cardinals out of their ugly days of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, but they need somebody younger to carry the torch. Bryce Petty doesn’t get the headlines, but his blazing trail of success at Baylor coupled with an array of physical talents makes him a big sleeper in this 2014 NFL mock draft. Bruce Arians has tons of experience developing quarterbacks, many of them less able than Petty. His ability to move around will be welcome, as well as his experience running a fast paced attack.
#21 – New York Jets – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Rex Ryan and Geno Smith count their lucky stars that Marqise Lee somehow fell this far. A knee injury might end up hurting his draft stock enough to cause such a fall, but the New York Jets trust the tape. Lee is a game breaker at wide receiver. He can go deep for bombs or turn down the middle and make tough catches in traffic. Athletically he is very dangerous, able to turn a five-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown. The Jets wouldn’t dare to pass that up.
#22 – Green Bay Packers – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
The Jermichael Finley injury has left a large void for the Green Bay Packers at tight end. It’s forced them to rely on questionable depth which isn’t helping their fast sinking ship. With Finley’s future in doubt, they need help in that area. Austin Seferian-Jenkins isn’t as proven a pass catcher as Ebron who went earlier, but he is a physical specimen with the speed to get out over the middle to make difficult catches and the strength to stay in as a capable blocker.
#23 – Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier – OLB – Ohio State
Mike Zimmer is great at making adjustments for the Cincinnati Bengals defense but there is no question he’s suffering some deficiencies at linebacker. In general they are lacking speed, making them vulnerable in coverage. That is why they decide to take OhioState standout Ryan Shazier. Bulk-wise he isn’t great but he has excellent speed and instincts, making him ideal in pursuit and covering tight ends or running backs on passing downs.
#24 – San Francisco 49ers – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Wide receiver is becoming a serious problem for the San Francisco 49ers. Injuries have taken their toll and exposed a rather large depth issue. The return of Michael Crabtree should help but they can’t afford not to add to the roster early with Anquan Boldin nearing the end of his superb career. They are fortunate to have Mike Evans still on the board. His size at 6’5″ alone will draw attention. Coupled with decent speed and explosive leaping ability, he might fast become the teams’ go-to guy on money downs like he is for Manziel at Texas A&M.
#25 – Cleveland Browns (from IND) – Bishop Sankey – RB – Washington
Having gotten their quarterback earlier, the Cleveland Browns must work to improve their less-than-stellar running game. Ironically they use the very same pick they got from the Indianapolis Colts for Trent Richardson. This time they scoop up Bishop Sankey. A workhorse at Washington, he runs hard but also has enough speed to turn the corner and take up the field in a hurry. Durability isn’t a problem either.
#26 – Detroit Lions – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – CB – Oregon
There are more than a few areas the Detroit Lions need to shore up but the pass defense certainly ranks near the top. Darius Slay seems like a quality pick. Giving him a wingman might set the team up to become one the best defenses in pro football. Largely considered the top corner in the draft, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu ends up falling in their laps. Not ideal in terms of size, his ball skills and ability stop and start explosively in coverage makes him ideal for a defense predicated on rushing the passer up front, which the Lions are.
#27 – Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
Offensive line is another options but until Cam Newton gets more weapons besides the aging Steve Smith, their hopes for a Super Bowl run are false. Jordan Matthews won’t beat teams with speed. However, his size, acceleration, route running and hands make up for that deficiency. He can go across the middle to make tough catches or battle defensive backs on the outside. Anytime a key catch is needed, he can be the guy for the job.
#28 – New England Patriots – Louis Nix III – DT – Notre Dame
The loss of Vince Wilfork has been telling for the New England Patriots. With him getting older they have to start thinking about grooming a replacement. Their lucky stars are with them again in this case. Louis Nix III is widely considered the best 3-4 nose tackle in the 2014 class. His sheer size masks how good of an athlete he is, able to move quickly to create problems against the run and eat up double teams to free up pass rushers.
#29 – New Orleans Saints – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
The pass rush has experienced a major revival for the New Orleans Saints under Rob Ryan but their defense is not perfect. They still could use some help on the back end, preferably at cornerback. Justin Gilbert out of OklahomaState doesn’t get much hype but he has the look of a prototypical 3-4 corner. He is big enough to match up with receivers, with the speed to keep up and the physicality to support the run as well. Rob Ryan can make good use of him.
#30 – Denver Broncos – Cameron Erving – OT – Florida State
Injuries have wreaked some havoc on the Denver Broncos offensive line and Peyton Manning is paying the price for it. They have to bolster this area in the off-season in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Cameron Erving is a big, athletic body from FloridaState who can run block very well and maintains the balance and quickness to handle any pass rusher provided his technique and mechanics are sound.
#31 – Seattle Seahawks – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
Another team in need of offensive line help. Russell Okung should stabilize the problems at left tackle once he returns from injury but there are still issues at right tackle and with the overall depth. Protecting Russell Wilson is now top priority for the Seattle Seahawks. La’el Collins is a natural fit for the right side. He’s not quite athletic enough for the left but his power blocking and big body can become a serious upgrade, or a boost to the depth at the very least.
#32 – Kansas City Chiefs – Tevin Reese – WR – Baylor
Is Alex Smith pedestrian because of his receivers or are they pedestrian because of him? It’s a chicken-and-the-egg argument that could go on for days. Suffice to say the Kansas City Chiefs are content to improve either area. In this case they go after some more help at receiver, snagging Baylor burner Tevin Reese. Though woefully raw in terms of route running and technique, his sheer speed and acceleration make him an instant deep threat and also a deceptively dangerous player after the catch.
Thus ends the first round of the updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft.